Tuesday 20 August 2019

Wexford businesses losing out due to 'hub town' status

WEXFORD'S ' hub town' status is seeing business and community groups here lose out on vital funding due to 'stupid bureaucracy', according to a local councillor.

' The designation of Wexford as a "hub town" in 2002 is preventing business and community groups from applying for certain state grants which could help drive development,' said Cllr George Lawlor.

Cllr Lawlor said that Wexford town is at a severe disadvantage as a result of a clause in the criteria for funding under the National Rural Development Programme.

'Under the programme projects that seek funding are deemed ineligible if they are based or want to set up within the town boundary of Wexford,' said Cllr Lawlor, pointing out that these restrictions do not apply anywhere else in the county, including the other big three towns.

'Projects within hub towns are not permitted to be funded or grant aided under the Rural Development Programme 2007 to 2013. This rule applies to both business and community groups,' said Cllr Lawlor.

Some of the headings that people are losing out in Wexford town include support for business creation and development; encouragement of tourism activities, and training and Information.

' Private individuals, business and community projects can be funded by up to €150,000 under these headings. but this clause prevents any application from Wexford town being successful,' said Cllr Lawlor.

' Local action groups such as Wexford Local Development are being increasingly frustrated at not being able to assist excellent projects because of their geographic location. It's not as if they are seeking extra money - it's already there - but stupid bureaucracy prevents them from assisting.

'Even more frustrating is the fact that Town and County Development Plans steer business into already zoned areas within the hub and yet this Government policy steers them away,' said Cllr Lawlor.

The Labour councillor said he will be raising the issue at the next meeting of Wexford Borough Council and with Minister Brendan Howlin 'with a view to having this unfair anomaly addressed'.

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